Nikki Haley is having a great fall.

The former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as ambassador to the United Nations in then-President Trump’s administration has been on the rise in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

While Trump remains the commanding front-runner in the GOP race, thanks in part to two well regarded performances in the first two Republican presidential debates, Haley’s seen her poll numbers rise nationally and in the crucial early voting states. 

“We can feel the momentum on the ground,” Haley said in an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital on Thursday following a town hall in Rochester, New Hampshire. 


Haley doubled her support in a month — from 5% to 10% — in a new Fox News national poll released this week in the GOP nomination race. Haley stood in third place, behind Trump at a whopping 59% and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 13%.


DeSantis remains in second place in the latest surveys in Iowa, whose caucuses kick off the Republican calendar. But Haley leapfrogged him and now stands in second in some of latest surveys in New Hampshire — which holds the first GOP presidential primary and votes second overall — and her home state, which holds the first southern contest and votes fourth.

“We can feel it in Iowa. We can feel it in New Hampshire. We can feel it in South Carolina,” Haley said, as she pointed to her momentum.

The candidate said her rise in the polls is helping boost her among the GOP donor class. Haley spent Tuesday mingling with top dollar Republican donors at an annual summit in Utah hosted by Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, and his one-time running mate, former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

A source in Haley’s political orbit said the candidate’s meetings with potential backers was very positive.

“We do have donor interest wanting to help us,” Haley said.

But she emphasized that “we’re keeping our head down. We’re very focused. We want to earn every Iowan’s vote. We want to earn every Granite Stater’s vote. And we want to make sure we get to South Carolina and we earn their votes and we’re not going to stop until we do it.”

Until Haley’s recent rise in the polls, DeSantis had second place all to himself.

Asked by Fox News if he’s concerned about the perception he’s flat lining in the polls, DeSantis pushed back, saying “we’re doing it right.”

Pointing to his barnstorming through Iowa this summer and autumn, where he’s closing in on making stops in all of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties, DeSantis reiterated that “you talk to people, what they will tell you is, man, you’re way ahead of where the previous Iowa caucus winners are in terms of the organization, the amount of support, all that. You got to earn it. You got to show up, and you got to do it.”


“I can tell you for what we’ve been able to do in Iowa, I would not trade places with any other candidate,” he touted.

DeSantis was interviewed at the Statehouse in Concord minutes before he filed at the Secretary of State’s office to place his name on New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary ballot. 

It was the governor’s first trip back to New Hampshire in two months, but he pledged that “we’re going to be painting this state a lot. We’re going to be doing town halls, are going to be doing the house parties that they do. We’re going to be doing speeches, everything we need to do.”

Former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a long-shot candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, dropped out of the race earlier this week, and endorsed Haley.

Asked if he thought some of the other contenders facing uphill climbs should also call it quits, DeSantis said “if you’re running for president, you have a plausible path. You have every right to do it.”

But he added “I don’t think people should be running for any other reason than that. And if they don’t have a path, then I think that they should try to coalesce. But that that’s going to be up to all of them to be able to make that decision.”

Fox News’ Bryan Llenas and Sally Persons contributed to this report

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